For Public School 18, an elementary school in the Brighton section of Staten Island, we took a clean, straightforward, modern approach to create a new library space that imparts the feeling of being inside a container of books. The library resembles an open laboratory where students, surrounded by the tools of knowledge, may access information via new technology or traditional texts. Inserted into what previously were two underused classrooms, the new library was designed to foster three encounters. First, the stainless steel ‘box’—a gleaming metal object that occupies the space of the hallway and provokes curiosity. Appearing as a solid object accessible through two pivoting doors, it allows a glimpse of the interior activity through windows located at a child’s eye level. Within the ‘box,’ the second encounter is the compressed space comprised of book stacks filled with information. The third encounter is the ‘laboratory’, a lively colorful space where students interact with the gathered information.

This project was created in collaboration with Pentagram as part of the Robin Hood Foundation's L!brary Initiative, and won a Citation from the AIA Staten Island in 2002. 

 (in collaboration with Jared Della Valle) 

Photography by Peter Mauss/ESTO